Archive for Machine Head

Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?

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The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?

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Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule

 

Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.

 

Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!

 

* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

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Album Review – Machine Head “Unto the Locust” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  It’s fitting that Unto the Locust contains a spot-on cover of Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel”, because this album serves as Machine Head’s version of Defenders of the Faith. Just as The Blackening emulated the trajectory of Screaming for Vengeance, this new album helps complete the duo. Both Priest and Machine Head had taken some knocks for a softer experimental period, and in response produced comeback records seething with primal fury. The follow-ups to those back-to-form records, while lacking the element of pouncing ambush, still fit into the same groove while exuding confidence, polish and a take-charge, stadium-sized attitude. Blackened Vengeance screams “Take that!”, while Defender of the Locust growls “Watch this.”   

I’ve always been leery of albums containing only long songs, as they can be demanding for the listener and provide no easily grasped Point of Entry*. Rob Flynn and company lay this concern to rest, just as they did on The Blackening. They are not only capable of putting together a 60-second hook that draws the listener into each track, they can chain together seven of those hooks per song and only afterward do you realize that you’ve been fed one epic track in delicious bite-sized pieces. 

Machine Head are in the songwriting sweet spot of their career; Unto the Locust is a reward for the faithful and a reason for the curious to take note. Be sure to grab the deluxe version containing the aforementioned “Sentinel” cover as well as a chilling version of “Witch Hunt” that traces a direct line from Rush to Killing Joke. Flynn is at last producing material commensurate with his standing as a leader in the American metal community. 8 out of 10

 

*See what I did there?

Album Review – Machine Head “The Blackening” 2007

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , on December 8, 2009 by Lightning Slim

Oldey Timey!  I’ve been fooled by Machine Head’s ability to create a good leadoff single before, only to be let down by their lack of staying power. One day in, I loved Burn My Eyes. One week in, I found I was listening to “Davidian” a lot more than the rest of the record. One month in, I’d basically moved on. A year later it was making its way to the top of the Sell for Beer Money pile.

Since then I’ve looked in from time to time, to be underwhelmed again and again. So it was with admitted indifference that I opened up my new copy of The Blackening, some two years late. The critics had been kind this time, and I had always found Robb Flynn’s contribution to Roadrunner United amongst the strongest, so I figured what the hell.

No normal “single” this time, as the lenghty lead-up to And Justice for All “Clenching the Fists of Dissent” sets the stage for a ten-minute sustained salvo of time changes, screams, whispers, chants, choruses, anti-choruses, solos, bridges and just about everything else you can think of. Does it always work? No, but it’s a ballsy statement, and if I was concerned before about MH’s commitment to making a full 45-minute record, they’ve already knocked off a quarter of that post haste. There’s more multiple-riff proggy death in the offing as most of the songs clock in at six-seven-eight-nine and yes, another ten-minuter at the bookend. Have no fear, each new flight of fancy is rendered in cleanly executed tones supervised by Colin Richardson.

There you have it; Machine Head has delivered a long, messy, heavy and most importantly, complete record. Sure, The Blackening wears its influences way out front, but this is the kind of sincere flattery that can revive a moribund franchise, something that might just have made an impression in the studio where Death Magnetic was being recorded and inviting a return of favours. 7 out of 10

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